The state of our environment plays a major role in the health of our citizens and the American economy. Some of our natural resources are being endangered by air, land, and water pollution; encroachments on open spaces; and threats to biodiversity. The use of nonrenewable energy sources for residential and transportation purposes also factors into many environmental concerns, as our nation seeks to reduce its dependence on those resources in the future.
Through National Service and community based volunteering, we can train our youth and unemployed and underemployed citizens for conservation and “green” jobs, reconnect Americans to the outdoors, build an ethic of environmental stewardship, and support successful science-based conservation strategies. As part of our 20th Anniversary focus on Environmental Stewardship, we talked with local community organizations and National Service Programs, and have highlighted the great work being done by Utah volunteers and outlined ways you can get involved. Here’s just a sampling of organizations who are working to preserve Utah’s natural resources to get you thinking of ways you can volunteer: Volunteer. Be a Good Steward of Utah’s Environment
- Find a volunteer opportunity near you online.
- Challenge your family and friends to volunteer with our “You Got Served! Pay it Forward!” campaign and then Share Your Service Story.
- Brainstorm with family and friends about community needs and design your own volunteer project. Check out these great toolkits to get you started.
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are recruiting volunteers to hike trails and interact with visitors, remove invasive plant species from river banks and drainages, and help remove graffiti from the parks. For more information about volunteering please visit Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks. You can also find volunteer opportunities at Arches and Canyonlands, as well as other parks, at www.volunteer.gov.
The Back Country Horseman of Utah, Uintah Division are a group of volunteers that enjoy horseback riding and cleaning, marking and maintaining trails across the Uintah Basin. If you are interested in volunteering with them please contact Gordon Hirschi.
The Utah Society for Environmental Education (USEE) works to promote excellence in environmental education by providing support, resources and networking to Utah’s community of educators. USEE does this work in part with the support of generous volunteers. Volunteers at USEE conduct research to help them better meet the needs of educators, help plan and run conferences, facilitate workshops about environmental education, and provide administrative support to the organization. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer at The Utah Society for Environmental Education please visit them online for more information.
Take the Clean Air Challenge and encourage your friends and family to join in! The Clear the Air Challenge is a competition starting July 1st that gives you the chance to reduce your vehicle emissions by choosing alternative methods of transportation. Find out how you can make Utah’s air cleaner!
Utah Water Watch’s mission is to encourage, educate and engage volunteers in monitoring water quality. They provide extensive training and all the equipment necessary to monitor waterways. They also utilize volunteers to teach watershed stewardship educational programs to youth, assist with outreach, tree planting, trash pickup and the creation of storm water drain signage. Learn how you can support clean waterways in Utah.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources needs volunteers to provide hunter education, mend fences, reseed wildfire burn scars, as well as many other opportunities you can find online.
Utah Conservation Corps is recruiting community volunteers to assist Utah Conservation Corps AmeriCorps members in conservation and environmental education projects like habitat restoration and trail maintenance. To get involved, contact Lindsay Thalacker at 435-797-0964. If you are interested in AmeriCorps you can learn more about opportunities at Utah Conservation Corps on their website.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is looking for volunteers to educate the public about natural resource issues, staying on designated trails and routes, and the Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! programs. They also need volunteers to teach back country etiquette and lead interpretative hikes. To learn more about volunteering for the BLM across the state please visit http://www.volunteer.gov and search by Bureau of Land Management and Utah.
Zion National Park has an extensive volunteer program with numerous opportunities to get involved. They need volunteers to join their California Condor Monitoring Program, help with vegetation restoration, and welcome and educate visitors to the park. Zion also hosts students through alternative spring break programs, groups looking to volunteer together, and businesses looking for ways for employees to give back. Please contact Michelle Haas or visit Zion National Park online. Don’t live near Zion? You can find places to volunteer at National Parks across the state at: http://www.volunteer.gov .
The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest volunteer program engages communities, provides underrepresented youth an opportunity to connect with nature, and increases awareness of the Forest Service mission. Conservation education is a key component of the volunteer program. Volunteers are needed for trail maintenance, wilderness education, back country patrols, inventory of roads and trails, invasive weed removal, wildlife habitat improvement, watershed restoration, and fire prevention. Visit their webpage for more information on how to get involved. If you don’t live near the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest visit the Forest Service’s webpage to find an area near you.
Volunteers Impact Utah’s Environment
- Canyonlands National Park volunteers served 18,000 hours in 2013.
- Arches National Park Volunteers served 15,000 hours in 2013.
- Volunteers at Arches National Park donated more than 400 hours in 2013 to remove graffiti.
- The Back Country Horseman of Utah volunteered 883 hours clearing, maintaining, marking and improving 36 miles of trails in the Uintah Basin.
- 15 volunteers with USU Water Watch provided over 60 hours of voluntary service to pull nearly 1 ton of garbage, algae, sticks, and other debris out of Bear Pond.
- The USU Water Watch program provided experiential water quality and watershed stewardship educational programs to over 5,000 youth.
- Over 100 volunteers with USU Utah Water Watch have been trained to collect water quality and other data on local rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Volunteers currently monitor sites throughout the state, resulting in over 1,500 different monitoring events in the past 18 months.
- The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Dedicated Hunter Program has approximately 5,500 participants annually and in 2013 they donated 60,000 hours of service by mending fences, reseeding wildfire burn scars, and participating in other projects to preserve Utah’s natural resources.
- Throughout 2014 Utah Conservation Corps will have 39 four-person AmeriCorps crews serving throughout the state completing habitat restoration, fuels reduction, and trail maintenance projects with several local, state, and federal land management agencies.
- Utah Conservation Corps has over 20 AmeriCorps members individually-placed at non-profits throughout Utah expanding capacity for environmental education programming and volunteer recruitment.
- In 2013, Utah Conservation Corps AmeriCorps crews, 46 AmeriCorps members in total, spent twelve weeks restoring 283 acres of habitat in the Escalante River watershed.
- Over 50 community volunteers joined Utah Conservation Corps AmeriCorps members and staff to complete a project designed to help prevent fire hazards on 32 acres of Utah State University property. The event was highlighted in an article in the Utah Statesman.
- Bureau of Land Management had 2,493 volunteers in 2013 who donated 45,363 hours to preserve Utah’s natural environment and educate the public on responsible use of state lands. The value of BLM’s volunteers donated time is $1,627,489.
- 1,104 youth volunteers served 14,860 hours with the Bureau of Land Management in 2013 contributing greatly to a cleaner environment.
- The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest hosted over 12,000 volunteers in 2013 who worked to keep Utah beautiful and educate the public on the value of natural spaces. The Forest Volunteer Program is consistently recognized regionally and nationally for its accomplishments.
- At Zion National Park 350 volunteers contributed 29,000 hours in 2013. Volunteers cleaned trails, restored vegetation, monitored wildlife and educated visitors on natural resource preservation.
- In 2013 a group of dedicated volunteers at Zion National Park called the “VIPers” assisted the Zion Vegetation Restoration program in growing and out-planting over native 5,000 plants.
- The “VIPers” at Zion National Park collected, harvested, cleaned and stored over 500 pounds
of native plant seed, and removed 10 acres of exotic weeds.
- The VIPers also installed 700 linear feet of deer fencing, 700 feet of rabbit fencing, and 300 feet of snake fencing to preserve wildlife habitat in 2013.